The W@Y joins the 6,000 people around the world, who wouldn’t be here but for Sir Nicholas Winton, in wishing him a very happy 106th birthday.
The 6,000 are the offspring of the 669 children – mostly Jewish – rescued by Sir Nicholas shortly before the outbreak of WW2 who now call themselves ‘Nicky’s children’. Most of their families died in the concentration camps.
In 1938, Sir Nicholas, then simply Mr Winton, a 29 year old stockbroker from London, visited Prague, realized the growing threat from Nazi Germany after the invasion of the Sudentenland.
After returning home he advertised for foster parents and organized eight evacuations of children on the Czech Kindertransport trains after gaining the required permits from the German and British governments.
He never boasted about his amazing achievements, but fifty years after the war he was the subject of a TV programme filmed in front of a studio audience. There it was announced that the woman sitting next to him being interviewed, and most of the audience, were people he had saved.
Among the children he rescued was Karel Reisz who went on to direct the film ‘The French Lieutenant’s Woman’, Alfred Dubs, who became a British peer in the House of Lords, and Joe Shlesinger who was a CBS News correspondent.
Sir Nicholas holds the Czech title the Order of the White Lion, the highest honour bestowed by the Republic, there is a statue of him in Prague railway station, and he is considered ‘Righteous Among the Gentiles’ at the Yad Vashem holocaust memorial centre in Jerusalem.